Australia ranks third in the world when it comes to the proportion of workers employed in part-time, contract or casual circumstances. According to the RBA, the number — which has jumped from 10% in the 1970s to over 30% in recent years — is steadily increasing, regardless of industry and age bracket.
So how do we keep this growing number of part-time and casual employees informed and engaged if they’re actually spending less time with us at work?
Here are our top nine tips for communicating and engaging your part-timers:
1. Embrace shared calendars and block out time to touch base
Blocking out time to touch base with your direct reports is a simple but effective way of letting them know that keeping them informed is important to you. Never underestimate the power of a standing one-to-one meeting to improve employee engagement, even if it just means touching base for 15 to 30 minutes every week.
Using shared calendars to schedule these recurring catch-ups gives you and your employees the power to determine when both parties are available, and manage work accordingly. It doesn’t mean you have to wait until that catch up before you pass on information, but a standing meeting is a good place to start when considering how to engage part-time employees.
2. Diversify your communication tactics!
Utilise multiple communication channels and publishing formats so those who aren’t present at a meeting or during regular office hours can still access information when they are able. Publishing company announcements and team updates in a single, unified employee engagement platform allows people who work at odd hours, or who need to access information on the go, whether that’s during their day-to-day commute, or if they’ve logging in at flight lounge while they make their way to an interstate client meeting!
3. Ask your employees what works
Ask individuals what is the best way to communicate with them. For example, Reward Gateway’s Founder, Glenn Elliott, rarely checks his emails but is likely to respond to a Tweet in seconds.
If you’re going to use different communication channels (and we recommend you do!) it’s important to establish which channels you and your employees will use for different purposes. For example, are text or instant messages for urgent things that need immediate action, while email inboxes are saved for bigger tasks or projects that can wait?
4. Make the most of physical space!
While technology is a great place to share information far and wide, don’t forget the power of a physical notice board or even the fridge in the communal kitchen. Digital notice boards are also a great way of circulating messages or reiterating goals to the team 24/7, even to a global audience.
5. Give them the power
In his best-selling book Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us, Dan Pink talks about the motivating power of giving employees autonomy over how and when they get the job done. The demand for flexible work is growing, and with it comes the need to switch our mindset from an ‘hours clocked’ mentality to an ‘output and quality’ mentality. Trusting your part-time and casual employees with the power to decide when and how to schedule tasks and meetings might take a bit of getting used to, but will free up your time in the long-run, and make a huge difference to how trusted and engaged they feel with their work.
6. Make communication a priority
If your payroll budget allows, consider appointing an internal communications manager, who is responsible for managing different communication channels and making sure that everyone is reached. This has the added benefit of sharing the one, same message to all employees adequately and less chance of misinterpretation for the employees who end up getting information second-hand.
It’s also important to reiterate this as an expectation for your team leaders and managers, who can easily overlook their responsibility of passing on information to their direct reports if they are constantly under pressure to reach other targets or goals.
7. Maintain connection, even if they aren’t physically there
Inviting part-time and casual employees to company events and after-hours functions — even if they fall outside of their normal working hours — is not only the polite thing to do, it helps build a sense of community and belonging. It also reinforces the idea that they have the choice to determine how/when to spend their time.
We also encourage you to give all employees access to relevant employee communication tools — including those who work less hours or those who are on leave for longer periods (for example those on long-service or parental leave). Make sure they’re still on mailing lists and have access to company announcements, so they always have the option to dive a bit deeper and find information about what’s going on.
The more open and accessible you make the information, the more likely they’ll engage with it.
8. Give them permission to switch off
While it’s important to use plenty of different ways to stay connected, make sure your part-time and casual employees know that it is ok to switch off after hours. You can’t be expected to be available 24/7. In fact, a French law promoting workers’ “right to disconnect,” went into effect last year. This law requires companies to establish hours when staff should not send or respond to emails.
By protecting your employees’ private time, you can best maximise the energy they spend at work and prevent burnout in the long-run.
9. Get to know them and understand what their priorities are
People who don’t work full-time do so for a number of reasons; sometimes it’s due to study commitments, personal preferences, childcare commitments, or because employment in service industries like health, education and hospitality involve irregular hours and necessitate casual work or part-time work.
As with every other employee, your part-time and casual employees are human beings with their own unique goals and values. Understanding why someone has undertaken a casual or part-time workload will help you understand their motivations, priorities, and how and what time of day is best to engage them at their most effective.
Kameel Martin is a Senior Client Success Manager for a wide range of businesses. She always has communications and marketing on her mind, and loves to share knowledge with anyone interested in improving employee engagement!
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